Ricky Reyes loses in discrimination case filed by HIV positive employee
Celebrity hairdresser Ricky Reyes has lost in the discrimination case filed by a former employee who has been diagnosed as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive.
The National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), in a decision promulgated recently, ordered Reyes to reinstate and pay back the wages of the 47-year-old employee Renato Nocos, including salary differentials and other mandatory benefits which amounted to P615,313.06.
The NLRC, through its labor arbiter Joanne G. Hernandez-Lazo, said that Reyes transferred Nocos to a branch which was about to close shop upon learning that the employee has showed symptoms of the HIV infection.
“HIV illness is not highly contagious and it is not transmitted through touching, hugging, sneezing, coughing, eating or drinking common utensils or being around an infected person. Thus, the means by which they (Reyes et al) tried to protect their other employees and customers unduly trampled upon the rights of the complainant (Nocos),” the decision read.
Nocos filed a case of discrimination, unlawful termination, non-payment of lawful wages and benefits against Reyes and business partner Tonneth Moreno before the NLRC on March 3, 2014 after he was shown the door last Feb. 28, 2014. The employee claimed that he was fired after he disclosed that he has HIV.
Aside from a discrimination case, he also filed a separate complaint alleging that Reyes and Moreno failed to pay his Social Security Service (SSS) and PhilHealth premiums since 2003.
The employee said that his victory at the NLRC is “an encouragement” for other HIV positive employees fighting for their rights.
“There is now a good reason for me to strive harder and get my life back, confident that justice shall reign supreme. On other hand, this victory is an encouragement for those HIV positive human beings like me who are fighting for respect and dignity. Deep in my heart, I’m praying for NLRC to dismiss any appeal. And I’m praying for enlightenment for my boss Mother Ricky,” Nocos was quoted as saying.
Last July, Ricky Reyes Corporation denied that it has sacked Nocos for being HIV positive, saying that he did not report back to work when the branch where he works in stopped its operations.
“There has never been a case of such experienced by the Ricky Reyes Group Of Companies for the past four decades in the business. So in the highest degree of respect to persons, we will not allow such actions whether it comes from the management or up to the rank and file to allow such discriminations to occur,” Ricky Reyes Corporation earlier said in a statement. AJH/JE
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